Allianz National Football League Division 2
Clare v Roscommon at Cusack Park, Ennis on Sunday at 2 pm
After last weekend’s postponement it’s round two for Roscommon footballers who face a journey to the Banner County to face the locals in what is a fascinating game in prospect for both sides. The winners will be able to look towards their final two games with the prospect of promotion while the loser will be looking over their shoulders once again.
Both sides have been very unpredictable in this league so far. Roscommon should have beaten Meath but were lucky to get a draw before they beat Tipperary in a match they could have lost. Tipp are the best side they have faced so far. Then they lost to Down with a stinker of a display, and they easily accounted for Louth who are the whipping boys of this division.
Clare have drawn with Tipperary and Cavan, who are probably the best two teams in the division, lost heavily to Meath and beat Down in Newry. It’s hard to make any sense out of the formbook.
On the back of a good win against Louth in the last round, Roscommon have cause for optimism. A return of 1-21 against the Wee County was good and hopefully players like Conor Daly, Enda Smith, Ciaráin Murtagh, Peter Domican, Donie Smith, Conor Devaney and Diarmuid Murtagh can carry their good form into Sunday’s game. With Shane Killoran, Ultan Harney and Cathal Compton on the way back from injury the squad is getting stronger.
There is controversy in the Banner County at the moment as their team manager Colm Collins is enraged at the suspension of two of his more prominent players. Gordon Kelly was handed a three month suspension for squirting a water bottle at an official while Jamie Malone’s appeal against a two match ban has been unsuccessful. Malone was involved in an incident with Tipperary selector Shane Stapleton during their league game and Collins reckons that both players have been very hard done by. Indeed, Collins himself is serving a one month suspension for comments he made to a linesmen during the same game against Tipp, which ended in a draw.
Roscommon fans will have very happy memories of their visits to Ennis. The 2006 All-Ireland minor final replay and the 2017 U-17 win against Kerry are just a couple of the highlights over the years. However, there are painful memories too and in 2016 Clare dumped the Rossies out of the championship in a qualifier in Pearse Stadium.
The weather has settled down again thankfully and the game will be going ahead. Roscommon were very impressive against Louth but the quality of the opposition was very poor it has to be said. Maybe Conor Daly will be one of the players that will offer Roscommon a badly needed solution at midfield and the search for the right combination in that sector will surely continue on Sunday.
Roscommon are certainly capable of winning this fixture if they go about their business in the right way. The unpredictability of this league means that nothing is certain but I will be disappointed if Roscommon do not have two more points on the way back up the new M17 motorway on Sunday evening.